Update to the Gospel for Asia Fraud Lawsuit – Why Are Board Directors Not Named as Defendants?

Wills Point GFA Chapel
GFA’s Chapel at Wills Point, TX

After I read the lawsuit against Gospel for Asia, I asked the lawyers bringing the suit why Board directors were not included as defendants.
In response, Martin Woodward of Stanley Law Group told me:

Defendants may be added or removed throughout the litigation of a case based on the available information.

Understandably, those bringing the suit do not want to signal their moves. My guess is that the process of discovery will reveal information which could lead to additional defendants. On that point, I am wondering if board members who knew K.P. Y0hannan altered Gayle Erwin’s report on the GFA diaspora might find themselves added to the suit.
Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to see that the organization operates ethically and in keeping with laws. Even so, Erwin pulled back the curtain and let the public know that much of what was happening was not known by the board of directors. Given what Erwin revealed, it is certainly possible that the author of the recent board statement did not actually come from the board.
 

Must Be Spring, Day of Silence Derangement Syndrome is Breaking Out

On April 20, thousands of students will remain silent for part of the school day to call attention to anti-gay bullying and harassment. Called the Day of Silence, the event is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

In 2008, some Christian right organizations called on parents to keep their kids home on the Day of Silence. This is happening again this year.

The Day of Silence brings out some really odd statements from those opposed to it. One would think that sending your kids to school on that day is sinful. Take for instance this exchange, reported on Right Wing Watch, between Linda Harvey and Laurie Higgins:

Higgins: What the Day of Silence does is ask kids to refuse to speak during instructional time in class, that they have no legal right to do and no school has to accommodate that, and so that’s what we’re doing is asking parents to call their school, ask if students are allowed to refuse to speak in instructional time, and if they are, to keep their kids home in protest about the disruption of instructional time for a political purpose.

Harvey: You can keep your kids home that day if you suspect or you find out that teachers are going to accommodate this protest silence in order to honor homosexuality, let’s be clear about what this is, this is a God-dishonoring day that honors sin, sinful, immoral behavior that most parents don’t want their children involved in.

Higgins: Christian teachers out there and if you’re working in a public school plan activities that involve student communications so students are not allowed to do this.

Laurie Higgins says the Day of Silence people promote kids remaining silent in class. While the organizers are fine with teachers who allow this response, GLSEN is clear that students do not have the right to remain silent if the class activities call on them to speak. Here is what the Day of Silence blog says about students and class room communication.

1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk with your teachers ahead of time, tell them that you plan to participate in Day of Silence and why it’s important to you, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate in class on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.

3. Your school is NOT required to “sponsor” Day of Silence. But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with – it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don’t be confused – just because your school isn’t officially sponsoring or participating in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that you can’t participate.

4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they only have a right to do so during non-instructional time. For example, they don’t have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don’t have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.

The irony is that Higgins and Harvey accuse the Day of Silence participants of violating school rules by remaining silent, and then turn around and urge truancy. Higgins and Harvey are fine with skipping an entire day of school, but become unhinged when those opposed to anti-gay bullying want to remain silent during non-instructional times.

I urge parents to resist Day of Silence Derangement Syndrome and send their kids to school on the Day of Silence (and even the misguided Day of Dialogue the day before). Send them to school and encourage them to become part of the solution via opposition to bullying. Students may want to remain silent, or take part in the Golden Rule Pledge which can take place any day of the year.

 

Golden Rule Pledge Partners with Pacer Center's National Bullying Prevention Month

The Golden Rule Pledge has again partnered with the Pacer Center and National Bullying Prevention Month for October’s effort to reduce school bullying. The GRP works to mobilize churches and youth groups to take a stand against bullying in school.
I started the GRP in 2008 in response to a call from some Christian groups  urging parents to keep their kids home on the Day of Silence. I also wanted to respond to the Day of Truth (now called Day of Dialogue) which in my view is not a constructive way to address the very real problem of bullying and anti-gay harassment in schools.
Students in high schools and colleges around the country have carried GRP pledge cards to school. Some have made clear statements to GLBT peers that they stand with them against bullying and harassment. Some churches (I have no way of knowing the number since the materials are free on the website) have used the bullying prevention materials designed for church youth groups. The Los Angeles School District has the GRP on the calendar for April of 2012.
I am always on the alert for volunteers nationally who desire to focus on ending bullying. If interested, email me.

Golden Rule Pledge on Facebook

The Golden Rule Pledge group on Facebook is slated to be archived soon as Facebook makes changes to how groups work.
In response, I created a GRP Fan Page on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/goldenrulepledge
Please click the link and click the Like button while there. I hope you will also invite your Facebook friends to join. This is an effort primarily involving evangelicals at present but I appreciate the support of any like-minded people who join constructively.

The Golden Rule Pledge (click link for updated website) promotes civility and the application of the Golden Rule in schools among Christian youth, especially in relations with GLBT students and teachers.

What kind of dialogue will we have?

Focus on the Family’s revised Day of Dialogue seems to be a kinder, gentler version of the former Day of Truth. On the new website, the group comes out strongly against bullying:

Any form of bullying and harassment of others is always wrong, including making fun of others, speaking down to them and saying things that hurt people. Christian students in particular should be bold in speaking up to oppose that kind of behavior because it goes completely against the model Christ gave us and that is reflected in Bible verses like these: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.

They also emphasize that any objections to homosexuality must be expressed in a respectful manner.

Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.

While I appreciate this tone, I wonder what kind of dialogue the sponsors hope to create. Let’s set the stage for the proposed dialogue. The DoD is set to take place on Monday, April 18, 2010, the Monday after the Friday the Day of Silence is observed. On the Day of Silence, some students are silent during non-instructional time to dramatize the silence surrounding the harassment and bullying of students who identify as GLBT or those who are perceived to be a sexual minority. The sponsors suggest providing cards to pass out which “speak” for them. Here is what they say:

Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence (DOS), a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.

DAY of SILENCE – What are you going to do to end the Silence?

This would be one side of a dialogue. What is the other side? Is there another side? The DoS invites a dialogue about ending bullying relating to perceptions of sexual orientation. What kind of dialogue is envisioned by the DoD? From the website:

As a high school or college student, do you sometimes feel discouraged when controversial subjects like homosexuality are brought up in your school—and the conversation seems stifled, one-sided and doesn’t allow free room for discussion? Do you feel like your beliefs—the deepest truths of Christianity—are being mischaracterized?

Wish your classmates could hear more of the story—like the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality? Wouldn’t it be nice if a deeper and freer conversation could happen?

As it stands, on Friday, the DoS students will ask for a conversation about anti-gay name-calling and bullying and then on Monday, the DoD students will answer with a defense of evangelical beliefs about sexuality. To me, that seems like two groups talking about two different things.

And so, I will continue to promote the Golden Rule Pledge during the days surrounding the “Days.” GRPledgers will join with those calling for an end to anti-gay bullying and offer that response to the question: “What are you going to do to end the Silence?” In addition, I encourage students to be keep the dialogue about ending bullying on the DoD.

Teen’s suicide said to be related to anti-gay bullying

Earlier today, Focus on the Family announced a remodeled Day of Truth (Day of Dialogue). Then just a few minutes ago, I read of a Middleburg, PA youth who ran in front of a truck due to his despair over being bullied. According to this local report, Brandon Bitner had endured bullying for years before walking 13 miles to Route 11 where he ran in front of a tractor-trailer.

There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Bitner did what he did.

“It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item.

“It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.”

The local Daily Item interviewed ministers in this rural Central PA area, all looking for answers. One, Denny Mallonee, seemed to implicate families:

Mallonee said a stronger bond between kids and their parents also will help.

“If the kids can get the message that nothing beats that close family relationship and that close communication with mom and dad … we get busy with so many things that pull that family apart instead of binding it together,” he said.

Another, Karl Polm-Faudre, pointed to anti-gay bias in the church and local politics:

Polm-Faudre said in his regular clergy study group — which encompasses Episcopal, Lutheran and United Church of Christ — everyone was aware of bullying that’s present in there areas, “and these are people from Mazeppa to Lewisburg, Sunbury, Benton, Berwick …” he said.

“I think the message we would want to give is that the community needs to take stock of the anti-gay rhetoric that’s been going on, especially from some political and religious circles,” Polm-Faudre said. “Because this is giving permission for bullying, harassment and name calling.”

And then another, Rev. Julia Beall, offered a helpfuf perspective:

People will come to terms with their pain, Beall said, but to stay there, things will need to change.

“We need to embody that kindness that doesn’t tolerate this kind of hurt, in every small way we live,” Beall said, adding the culture of the church is that “we do affirm that God created us for a purpose, and respect that God created every person for an purpose because that is part of the Christian culture. … We are all loved by God, and we should love one another.”

Seems to me this is the prime dialogue we need to promote.

Exodus International drops Day of Truth

Exodus International announced today that the organization will no longer sponsor the Day of Truth (website has been disabled). In an article on CNN’s Belief’s Blog posted by Dan Gilgoff, Exodus leader, Alan Chambers tells the tale:

“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.

Probably surprised by the move, GLSEN’s Eliza Byard welcomed the news.

“I thank Exodus for making this very important step,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard on Wednesday after hearing of Exodus’ decision. “The Day of Truth was an effort to push a very specific set of opinions about homosexuality into schools in a way that was inappropriate and divisive.”

On the Day of Truth, middle and high school students are encouraged to wear Day of Truth T-shirts and to distribute cards that say “It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality,” according to Exodus’ manual for this year’s event.

“I don’t think it’s necessary anymore,” Chambers said of the event on Wednesday. “We want to help the church to be respectful of all its neighbors, to help those who want help and to be compassionate toward people who may hold a different worldview from us.”

As I noted in the article, I think this is a very significant move. Over the past three years, I have been documenting a split in the evangelical world over how to relate to the gay community. With this decision, Exodus has moved even farther away from the side of fear and stigma. I welcome it as quite consistent with the article I wrote yesterday for CNN.

Golden Rule Pledge dayz

The Day of Truth is today and the the Day of Silence is tomorrow. In some places, on both days, students are passing out Golden Rule Pledge cards. There does not seem to be as much media interest as last year but things are happening. Charisma Magazine has a brief review of the different efforts taking place.

The unofficial them song of the GRP is Hero by Superchick. I say unofficial because the band has not authorized that but I like it and so here it is again.

Don’t walkout, walk along side and be a hero. Don’t preach at gay kids and call it conversation. Instead, walk along side and listen.

The Days are coming…

After March Madness – which I am looking forward to – the month of the Days will be here. April 15 (or 12th if you listen to the PSA on the website) is set as the Day of Truth with April 16 being the Day of Silence. The boycotters will also be pursuing their mischief. This week, the Illinois Family Institute sent out an email asking for supporters to find out if their local school would be taking part in the Day of Silence. Soon after, Exodus sent out an email promoting the Day of Truth.

In response to the boycott and the Day of Truth, I will again support the Golden Rule Pledge. For more on that, go on over to the Golden Rule Pledge site.  And consider joining the Facebook group supporting the GRP.

Also, this week, fellow Crosswalk.com blogger, John Shore posted on the GRP. His initial reaction to the GRP was not positive and his readers are giving me some tips.